It’s been a long time coming, but welcome to my first post of 2020! I want to thank everyone that’s subscribed to my blog in 2019 I find it incredible that anyone aside from parents (hi mom & dad) enjoy my writing! Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for validating my writing, my thoughts, and my dreams. I hope I can live up to your content expectations in this new year to warrant your continued support.
So, I haven’t posted since November and there’s some mighty fine reasons that’s been the case: things got crazy. If I wasn’t ill, someone else was. Trevor and I ran all over central PA. Lev, our middle kitty, had a teeth cleaning and some teeth pulled. On top of all of this, two people I love very dearly were hospitalized over the holidays. I’m not going to go into details out of respect for their privacy, but things were very difficult this year. Thankfully we’ve all been able to get through the mess together and move into this year feeling rather hopeful.
After the emotional heaviness of the holidays I’ve had a difficult time falling back into my rhythm, resuming my life and my creating again. Mostly this is because I haven’t transitioned back into that mindset yet, having been so focused on others, but it’s also because I’ve been a little preoccupied with myself.
Spending 8-14 hours in a hospital room seemed to cause some pain in the veins in my thighs. I’m thinking it was the chairs and now they are shaped, with the sides applying a slight and steady pressure. All I truly know is: my veins are sore. After going to the doctor it was decided I have mild varicose veins. If this is mild, this constant discomfort, I don’t want to know how it feels when it’s worse! I went on long walks throughout the day, while in the hospital, which helped a lot. In an effort to reduce discomfort, I started doing 30-minutes of cardio exercise 6 days a week. I love Ring Fit Adventure, but I usually have to play for an hour or so. When I ABSOLUTELY only have 30 minutes to pound out an exercise I do a workout by Lucy Wyndham-Read. A good walk on a cloudy day is always a favorite option of mine as well.
Anyway, that pain has been distracting and keeping me busy, but I’m not sure it’s something I want to continue to document here. As far as I understand, it’s not ever going to change. What is changing, is me. I’m moving more throughout the day, making more and more food from scratch, and buying more nutrition dense foods/pantry staples to have on hand. These changes are lifestyle changes, and they are exciting. I’m sure they’ll end up being woven into the content of the blog this year as well.
Wether you’re going through things in your personal life, have seemed to lose your creativity, or are ill (or, like me, you’re trudging through all three), feeling like you’re in a slump isn’t ever a happy time.
I can’t remember the thing I was upset about anymore, but I remember seeking my mom’s advice as a teenager. For some reason I’d felt I didn’t have the right to be as upset as I was, but she said something incredibly profound to validate my emotions. “You can be upset about this,” she said, “Let yourself be upset for as long as you feel you should, but after a few days you need to do something about it.”
It’s stuck with me to this day, though I don’t only practice it in the manor she’d intended me to. Of course I practice that philosophy when something upsetting happens, but I also find the tactic beneficial when I’m in a slump. Even if the slump is a creative slump, I find letting myself swim in it helps me get back on my feet.
Our minds enter slumps for a reason. We’re tired, we’re drained, we’re stressed—there’s so many reasons that may prompt the desire to step back and do nothing for a while. There’s a trigger, a way that we’re craving for healing, and I find that leaning into that desire helps me move forward. Better still, what I create on the other side is always better than I’d originally imagined.
What ever the impulse to slow down manifests as, I go for it. It probably comes across as selfish to ignore any non-emergent contact, but I find that the people that care for me back are understanding when I explain myself.
Time is a finite resource for all of us, and I don’t want to waste much of mine being stressed and run-down, or feeling uninspired. If I give into my desire to slow down, I find I’m back on my feet faster and possess an enthusiasm I hadn’t had before. It’s almost like I’m itching to do the things I had taken a break from, ready to make headway and solve whatever problem I needed to take time from in the first place. My mind is clearer, my ambition returns, and my voice finds its way back home.
In college, writer’s block was viewed as pseudo science. Like it didn’t actually exist. “The best way to get through a bout of writer’s block is to continue writing through it,” my fiction professor said. Maybe it’s just me, but almost every bad decision I’ve ever made came from pushing through writer’s block. Ive deleted countless projects because I hated them in the moment and written some utter garbage from forcing my hand.
When you’re tired, when your mind literally goes blank, do yourself a favor and stop. Literally nothing good ever comes from forcing yourself to continue something that’s running your mind ragged. It can be a job, a poem, a recipe, whatever: if your mind can’t fathom the task any longer, you need a break. This is the reason we get vacation days, the reason we’re allowed to call time-out.
Do something else with your time to refresh, something mindless for you as an individual. For me, a go-to is housework. I also really enjoy cooking, or baking, and even painting. All of those things allow me to disconnect and focus on achieving a task. Finish that painting tutorial. Bake those cookie’s that have been saved on Pinterest from Pick Up Limes for a week. Tidy up a room. Get something accomplished.
Using that momentum, I begin to manifest the confidence needed to tackle the problem that caused my creative rut in the first place.
Now, I understand these tactics aren’t always going to be applicable in a professional environment. If you have the luxury of being able to switch to a different project, do so. In that setting sometimes a recharge can be as simple as taking a quick walk, or grabbing a coffee. Sometimes what’s needed is some movement and time to mull things over deeper, and that’s okay, too.
Experiment and find out what works for you, what recharges you the best, and what helps you clear your mind most effectively. Once you do, just lean into it. Indulge your brain with the activity its craving, and then get back on track.
For me, working on my novel is on the horizon. I haven’t been very diligent with it, due to confidence and organization issues, but I’d really like to make headway with it this year. I’ve been struggling with it since early winter, and I’m eager to make things right.
I’m also going to be trying some gardening from seed this year, which I consider a creative endeavor. It’s a skill I’ve been yearning to begin learning for my long term dreams. Since 2014 I’ve wanted to manage a homestead and be self-sufficient with our food needs. Living in apartments hasn’t made any part of that goal feasible, really, until this year. Though we’re still in an apartment, I have a small porch that gets a lot of sunlight throughout the day. Container gardening, here I come! I’m honestly so excited to learn a few things this year trying to grow some of our produce from seed.
For the time being, I’m not going to rush anything and continue to take my long-term goals slowly. I’d like to focus on fitness and healthy eating for the first few months of the year, and make some permanent lifestyle changes come to fruition. Guess I’m still feeling that creative rut, since I’m feeling the need to focus on my wellbeing first, but that’s all fine and dandy with me! I’ll revisit my novel once I’m ready to, and the words I write then are going to be worthy of feeling proud of.